China's Square Running Track Will Play Havoc With Your Lap Times

By Gerald Lynch on at

With the 2008 Beijing Olympics having been such a magnificent success, you'd think China's athletics stadium planners would have locked down what a running track should look like. But, going by the running track at the new stadium in Heilongjiang province’s Tonghe County, you'd be forgiven for thinking the 2008 games never happened.

Rather than the usual oval shape that running tracks come in, local officials authorised a square track to be placed in the centre of the 100,000 sq ft stadium. The rest of the facilities are state of the art, including a full size artificial football pitch, which makes the right-angled running track all the more jarring.

So why the boxed-off blunder? Pressure from the top, of course. Upper members of the Communist Party were visiting the site at short notice, and the construction crew simply didn't have the time to calculate the correct curves for the track. As such, it's pretty much unfit for purpose now -- professional runners have called the track a laughing stock, noting that it'll prevent athletes from speeding up around curves as they are used to doing, while also introducing a jarring (and potentially dangerous) turn at the corners. [Telegraph]